How To Make A Commercial Building More Energy Efficient
With summer around the corner, property managers across South Jersey are getting ready to rely on their air conditioners to keep their clients, tenants, and workers healthy and comfortable.
But, if they aren’t making sure their commercial building is energy efficient, they may be doing so at the expense of their bottom line.
An inefficient commercial HVAC system can hike up your energy bills. And, depending on what’s causing this, you could also be looking at some hefty repair bills down the line as well.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure your heating and cooling system is working at its best.
How can I make a commercial building more energy efficient?
You can make your commercial building more energy efficient by identifying any problems with your HVAC system and making smart upgrades. This way, the system doesn’t use any more energy than it should. It will also lower your energy bills, and you pay for fewer repairs when the system is in good shape. Some easy ways to do this are:
- Getting a commercial building energy audit
- Inspecting your ducts for leaks or blockages
- Investing in a smart thermostat
- Replacing an old system with a ductless setup
Do I need a commercial building energy audit?
A commercial building energy audit is an important first step toward making your heating and cooling system more efficient. It gives you an overview of what’s happening on the property and what steps you need to take. The audit includes:
- Evaluations of the building and equipment
- Any damage to the building or HVAC system
- Drafts, air leaks and other problems
- Steps you can take to improve energy use
Evaluating your building and HVAC system
For a commercial building energy audit, trained professionals go through your properties for drafts, leaks and other factors that can affect your HVAC system’s performance.
It begins with a visual inspection to identify any obvious problems and get a better idea of what’s affecting your climate control.
Auditors look for water stains and physical damage, for instance. Then, they account for lighting, the height of your ceilings, the orientation of your windows and more.
From there, they’ll use specialized tools to check for drafts, leaks, and other problems you may feel but can’t see.
Identifying problems you can’t see
You may realize there’s a draft. But, do you know exactly where it’s coming from or what’s causing it?
Auditors use thermal imaging and infrared cameras along with specialized equipment like blower doors and other tools. This way, they determine what’s going and what’s causing it.
When they’re done, you get a comprehensive report. It shows you exactly what’s going on and offers suggestions on how to address each issue.
If you want to increase your energy efficiency, a commercial energy audit is an excellent way to wrap your head around where to start. You’ll get a checklist of items that you can prioritize based on your resources.
Have Your Air Ducts Inspected And Cleaned
For commercial buildings, it’s a good idea to have your air ducts inspected at least every two years. If you need a cleaning, or if there’s a problem, a professional will spot it. And, you’ll head off costly repairs and higher energy bills before they happen.
A problem with your air ducts can mean:
- Decreases in air quality
- Increases in energy bills
- Poor airflow and less comfort
A ductwork inspection can help you get to the bottom of these issues. A lot of time, these causes are to blame:
Dirty vents and air filters can cause a host of problems. Restricted air flow is a big one. If air can’t make its way through a clogged filter, then it’s not going to circulate property throughout the building.
Meanwhile, pollutants like dirt, dust mites and allergens build up in the ducts. Eventually, they make their way through the vents and into the air. You’ll know it’s happening when people are complaining about allergies and similar symptoms.
When there are physical holes or openings in the ducts, air escapes through them. As a result, there’s less pressure to push the air to places you want it. Meanwhile, you’re now treating the ceilings and other areas where the ducts, rather than people, are located.
This affects people’s comfort and health, and your building’s energy bills. The leaks weaken the airflow through your system.
Along with the higher bills and uncomfortable conditions, this can also lead to a significant expense: A broken-down HVAC system.
These problems put extra stress on your heater or air conditioner. That makes it wear out faster.
When that happens, you’re suddenly on the hook for a replacement well before you expected it.
Of course, this isn’t an issue for properties with ductless heating and cooling systems. As the name implies, these don’t use ductwork to circulate the air. On top of that, they offer more customization and use less resources than traditional setups.
Use a smart thermostat to increase energy efficiency
Smart thermostats from brands like Nest and Ecobee are making a huge impact on the residential market. They also offer a lot of benefits for businesses.
We’ve covered this in-depth before. But, it’s worth highlighting here, because there’s a lot to say about how they can improve your commercial HVAC system’s efficiency. The benefits come from:
- Better sensors
- Learning features
- More control
With more ways to install sensors, these devices can get a much better snapshot of how hot or cold your property is than traditional thermostats.
This especially comes in handy when you have multiple HVAC zones. Or, if you’re dealing with a large area like a warehouse with varying temperatures.
With a better reading, the system uses fewer resources by knowing exactly when – and how much – treatment an area needs.
These new devices don’t just get better readings. They also do more with them.
Over time, the device tracks when people are in certain parts of the property and when they’re not. From there, it creates its own heating and cooling schedule.
This works alongside any programming you’ve done for when the system should turn on and off. From there, the system suggests changes that will make it work more efficiently.
Imagine having all the temperatures and controls for all your properties available to you at a glance, wherever you go. You can get that with these devices.
Nests, Ecobees and legacy brands like Honeywell offer apps you can download on your tablet, phone or laptop. From there, you can view the temperatures each device is showing. And, you can make adjustments remotely.
That means saving money by taking a few seconds to change a setting. You’re more likely to make that happen when you don’t have to travel across town, or even across a building, to manually fidget with the gauge.
These are just a few ways you can make your commercial HVAC system more efficient. You’ll want to choose the best ones for you depending on your needs and the type of buildings you manage.
Are you ready to lower the energy bills for the properties you manage? Contact us to see how we can help!
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